Pasta Series #7: Spätzle with butter + chives

I realize that at this point in the month -- just four days shy of Christmas -- you're probably not in the market for a shiny new pasta recipe, correct? I know, I know: you're imagining having to measure out ingredients, knead dough, roll and cut and shape it or even fill it, perhaps even make a sauce to serve it in -- all tasks you surely have little time for. You're wrapping gifts (even shopping for them, still?!) strategizing your Christmas lunch prep, putting up the last decorations, hurrying to the final Christmas parties, right?! You're short on time, I know.

But you can still make fresh pasta! Let me be clear: it does not get easier or faster than these spätzle (pronounced shpet-sleh) short, free form dumplings that hail originally from the south of Germany and made their way down to the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy and thus the city of Bolzano -- the most Christmas-y of cities -- where I first tried them a couple of years ago. This is an on-the-go type pasta, a matter of whisking together ingredients and melting butter, a dish that is done in just the time it takes to boil the water it cooks in (it cooks immediately, for the record). It is the quickest of dinners, cozy, comforting fare that fits perfectly into your busy holiday schedule -- a fresh pasta to boot! -- and oh so very delicious. These spätzle are light and airy and slightly (and festively!) nutmeg-scented, wonderful when tossed in butter (what isn't?) and sprinkled with chives for a little color and sharpness to break up the richness. Topped with a grating or two (or three, or four) of flavorfully sharp Parmesan, they make for a pretty spectacular dinner, around Christmas or any other time this Winter. I loved, loved, loved these, and in true holiday spirit, have to thank my friend Tiziana -- the best colleague, advice-giver, support-provider, and amica I could ever ask for -- for the spätzle maker, a gift she brought me from all the way up north (she knows me so well!) 

Merry Christmas, everyone -- I'll be back after the 25th with the last post of 2019! 

A couple of notes: You will need a spätzle maker to make this; they can most likely be found at your nearest kitchen store, or even on Amazon in a pinch (they don't cost much). Otherwise, you can use a potato ricer or colander which works just as well (see directions below). If you want to make these a little richer, feel free to serve with a little cream mixed with cheese until it melts (you could use this sauce gorgonzola here, for example!)  with the addition of speck or prosciutto, if you wish. That's it!

Want to know what the other six recipes are in my blog's Pasta Series? I've got these ravioli, this lasagne ai carciofi, these gnocchetti sardi, these cavatelli, these orecchiette, and these pumpkin gnocchi.

Recipe from Giallo Zafferano. Serves 4.

2 cups (250 grams) 00 flour
2/3 cup (150mL) tepid water 
3 medium sized eggs
Salt, to taste
Fresh nutmeg, to taste

To serve:
4 tablespoons (56 grams) salted butter
Chives, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan, to taste

1.) Put a pot of water on to boil. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and eggs, then add in the water. Season with salt and a good grating of nutmeg and set aside. This will be a pasta batter, not a dough!

2.) Next, melt the butter in a large skillet and keep warm over low heat. Cut up some chives (you can use a knife for this but it is much easier with kitchen scissors) and set aside. Once the water is boiling, get our your spätzle maker (or a potato ricer or colander if you prefer). Here is my shiny new spätzle maker, below!
3.) If using a spätzle maker: using a ladle, pour some of the batter into the square section of the spätzle maker, and, holding it over the boiling water, move the square back and forth, so that the batter falls through to the water below (video example here, at 1:51). As soon as the spätzle float to the top of the pot -- nearly immediately! -- remove them with a strainer, and add to the pan with melted butter. If using a potato ricer, pour the batter in and close the lid, then press down as if you're ricing a potato, letting the batter fall directly into the water (video here, at minute 2:26). If you're using a colander, pour the batter in, and using the ladle spread it back and forth until the batter falls through the holes of the colander (example here, at minute 2:11). 
4.) Proceed this way, until all batter has been used and all spätzle cooked. Toss with the butter in the pan, add in the chives and a few grounds of black pepper, and serve with a cloud of Parmigiano. Eat immediately, with gusto. 

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